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Recruiting, Empowering, Developing and Retaining Diverse Talent


Not only is recruiting diverse talent the right thing to do, but it makes good business sense as well. 

By Hosetta Coleman, Senior Vice President, University Relations

Recruiting the talent

My goal is simple: I want great talent. I want Fifth Third to have an unfair share of the smartest, most skilled, most innovative talent available. We're not going to do that by looking in the same places we've always looked or by recruiting from the same places we've always recruited. We're going to do it by tapping into previously marginalized groups and genuinely embracing a holistic culture of diversity.

The world is changing. Generational differences, gender differences and ethnic differences are all part of the big, changing melting pot—so it's important that we change to reflect our communities. It's important that we have talent able to identify and meet the needs of our customers. In addition to being the right thing to do, it's good business. If we don't change, we're going to be left behind.

Because of this, our organization has recognized the need for us to implement changes in how we recruit. Two years ago, we launched a specific initiative where we placed a priority on establishing key relationships with and recruiting from historically black colleges and universities. Our interaction with all universities is to provide professional support that will assist in the perpetuity of those institutions-and that is no different at HBCUs. We want the best students to work with us but above that, we recognize that our fiscal and strategic support can aid universities and we are committed to building relationships that do that.

Developing the talent

Not only do we coordinate with HBCUs to identify top students and build relationships with them, but we're helping develop that talent. We have the industry expertise—we know what skills and knowledge will be necessary for the next generation of financial workers—and we advise faculty on curriculum which is in line with emerging business trends.

Instead of limiting ourselves to recruiting students who are typically thought of as suitable for a financial career, we also recognize our need to hire and develop top STEM talent too.

To take it all a step further, as we work to attract these students to work at the Bank, we provide them with a holistic educational approach that will help them as they continue to pursue their careers but also as they give back to their communities as productive citizens. We provide financial literacy workshops and education around wealth management. We want them to understand the financial opportunities of the environment they're currently in. And, If they don't choose us as their employer of choice through our recruiting efforts, we still work to equip them to better negotiate life, while also providing them with a foundation of financial knowledge that can be applied in their personal lives and in their communities.

Therefore, our efforts are empowering minorities to rejuvenate their communities by helping each other to make better economic choices, drive positive change and to create overall prosperity.

Empowering the talent

As we continue to expand our efforts with more HBCUs and the communities that they are in, it’s essential that we present a consistent message that accurately reflects what these students will see once they join our team. It can't be bait and switch where they believe they are coming to work for a company with a diverse pool of talent and that not be their reality when they start working at the Bank.

For many people of color, after they get their first job or their first promotion, they look around and find that they're the only person of color either at their workplace or at the level that they are working in. When you're the only one in the room—especially if that room represents a significant portion of your professional world—it's easy to fall into isolation.

So once we hire the students, we work hard to ensure that we keep them.

We focus on giving them the avenues to build strong relationships with executives who look like them. We’ve learned that is a big piece of the puzzle. Everyone wants to enjoy the people they work with, have a best friend at work and have a connection to someone they know has their back—preferably someone in leadership. Because of this, we ensure that these students have mentors and advocates. While mentorship is a more formalized program, we give the students and the executives the opportunity to get to know each other so that the executives can advocate on behalf of the students.

Once the students become employees, they need to know there are people at the Bank who support them. Our long-term goal is to keep them for their whole careers. We don't want to invest and develop this great talent only to have them leave and work for another company. Because of that we do our best to let them know they are welcomed, valued, appreciated and that their voices are being heard. We also challenge them to be the best that they can be.

Primed for the future

Whether a company is authentic in their approach to multicultural talent can be gauged by looking at the company's leadership. If there’s no diversity there, it's hard to believe it's an actual priority. There needs to be people of color with visible roles at a senior level, which creates a natural environment in which everyone knows diversity is a priority.

For companies who look at their current leadership and see a lot of uniformity, multicultural recruiting is all the more important. Successful recruitment over the next 10 to 15 years will mean that as the current generation of leaders retires, the company will need to have a pool of talent ready to succeed those leaders. Without it, you don't have the foundation for success, because there won't be any multicultural talent to fill those roles.

Recruiting multicultural talent isn’t just the right thing to do—it's good business. It makes us a better Bank. If we're not ahead of the game, developing new talent, being agile, flexing with market trends and the competitive landscape, we will fail. Making multicultural recruiting a priority will bring long-term economic benefit and improved ROI.

As we expand existing partnerships with HBCUs and begin to build more relationships with these schools, we're developing a strong pipeline for our culture to be more diverse and for us to be in the forefront of thought leadership with it come to diverse recruiting efforts.

With a comprehensive approach to multicultural recruiting, including that at diverse schools, everyone wins—companies, universities, communities and, most importantly, the students and businesses of the future.

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